(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo

Whisky Tasting


Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild




Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2023 - Part 1

July 2023 - part 2 <--- August 2023 - part 1 ---> August 2023 - part 2


August 14, 2023



WF's Summer Duets
Today Allt-A-Bhainne
IB vs. IB

Allt-A-Bhainne is my Macallan. Glendullan, Braes, Deanston or Balmenach too. And Strathmill, Mannochmore, Glen Spey and many others as well. All worthy distilleries, all immune to excessive branding that means nothing and sometimes becomes a bit ridiculous. Products (and true people) before brands, that seems to be the trend of the Future, am I not right?



Allt-A-Bhainne 9 yo 2013/2022 (46%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection)

Allt-A-Bhainne 9 yo 2013/2022 (46%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection) Four stars
We're just recovering from their excellent Secret Islay from the other day, all for less than 40 euros. We're expecting some plain and pure eau-de-vie de barley here… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: indeed, barley, apples, fresh biscuits and pancakes, muesli, cherries, pears, brown sugar, a tiny vegetable-y side too (celeriac, fennel)… This is immensely natural. Mouth: love it, totally. Pears, apples, cherries, plums, barley, cakes, sponge cake, finger biscuits, sweet beer… There are millions of casks of this type housed in Scotland, but that doesn't change the fact that it's simply excellent. Finish: perhaps a little more on pears and on mashes and beers. Admirable softly spicy aftertaste. Comments: I am very happy that this humble little cask of Allt-A-Bhainne has not been sacrificed in any high-volume blend by Pernod or any other famous names. Almost 87.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Allt-A-Bhainne 20 yo 2000/2021 (52.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry finish, cask #6, 703 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 20 yo 2000/2021 (52.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry finish, cask #6, 703 bottles) Four stars
This baby was finished for eight months in a butt, which would suggest that they have used two or possibly three hogsheads. Signatory are kings of Braes and Allt-A-Bhainne in my book. Colour: deep amber. Nose: a bit closed and slow at first, rather only on pancake sauce and glazed chestnuts. Richer honeys would then come to the front, together with some strawberry jam and certainly a lot of dried figs of all sizes and colours, but indeed, it is not a mover. No time to wait, let's add H2O. With water: a few pencil shavings, some praline, muscovado, rhum agricole instead of armagnac… That's all nice. Mouth (neat): great punchy armagnac-like arrival, with raisins, figs, prunes and softer spices. Now it would not change much then, becoming just a little spicier and earthier. With water: chocolate, tobacco and fig wine. Finish: medium, with hints of salty bouillon and a little brown sauce and raisins. Comments: It's the opposite of the previous one, but the level of quality is exactly the same in my humble opinion.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Allt-A-Bhainne we've tasted so far


August 13, 2023


A few more grand Armagnacs
for samurais and sweet persons

For the general public, the reputation of Armagnac is that it is more rustic than Cognac. However, in reality, judging by the quality and styles of those that reach the door of WF HQ, this is not the case at all. But it is true that for some reason, only the finest examples make their way to us, as we should realise once more today...

Bittersweet magazine ad from the 1980s with a tender, moving headline: "Armagnac, it's not always those who make it who drink it."

Oh, while we're at it, let's kick this off with a little example of aging and maturation that doesn't happen in oak. Many believe that any spirits can only evolve positively when housed in wood but that's not the case with many distillates, such as rums, mezcals, eaux-de-vie or, for that matter, some 'blanches'. We really need to break the myth that only aging in oak can improve a spirit.

Update about the old ad: I just realised that the copywriter made our dear old Alphonse live up to the ripe old age of 95, which was rare in the 19th century. Ah, those clever admen!



Domaine de Baraillon 2020/2022 'Eau de Vie de Folle Blanche' (50.2%, Swell de Spirits)

Domaine de Baraillon 2020/2022 'Eau de Vie de Folle Blanche' (50.2%, Swell de Spirits) Four stars
Love that 'boom!' This baby from Bas-armagnac was first matured in a stainless-steel tank for one year, then for one more year in a demijohn. It is not, indeed, proper armagnac. Colour: white. Another myth: white = unaged, golden/brown = aged. Nose: touches of raw sugar at first, then roots, peel and leaves. Apple peel, asparagus, parsnips, grape pips indeed, then touches of juniper, lemon zests, tonic water… At some point you would almost think it is some unusually complex gin. Quite some caraway too. With water: water does not actually change it much. Mouth (neat): some French pisco, perhaps? More sweet roots (beets), then indeed, caraway, aquavit… With water: water further brings out the lemonness, which would make this baby even more gin-like (if I may, Mister Bottler). Finish: rather long, and even more on 'modern gin'. Comments: it's true that folks usually drink these 'blanches' on ice, rather than neat. It grew on me. It is not 'grappa-y'. By the way, with friends we've been distilling white spirits every year for thirty years. We now keep them for at least five or six years in demijohns before we let them go and I can tell you that they improve mucho, as long as 'they see no light'.
SGP:561 - +/-85 points.

Let's go vertical…

Domaine Bordeneuve 10 yo 2012 (49.8%, Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai series, Bas-armagnac) Domaine Bordeneuve 10 yo 2012 (49.8%, Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai series, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine Bordeneuve 10 yo 2012 (49.8%, Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai series, Bas-armagnac) Four stars
Stunning artwork once more. They should bottle some Shizuoka! Bordeneuve have a superb terroir in Eauze, but I haven't tried many. Their little VSOP is very good. Colour: gold. Nose: fresh fruits, apples, papayas, a tiny bit of pineapple, peaches, touch of lavender, touch of violet, pack of liquorice allsorts, a little white muscat and lychee, some lovely vanilla… Well, I believe this nose is perfect. Mouth: boisterously fruity, with a wee grittiness (but after all this is young armagnac), some custard, raisin rolls and amaretti, this funny touch of muscat once more – they don't secretly grow muscat, do they – and peach skins. Finish: medium, with a little more vanilla, which would add a faint bourbon touch, while the liquorice allsorts are back in the aftertaste, with even a very tiny grain of salt. Comments: entirely impeccable, without the 'pruney' notes that you would usually find in many young Armagnacs from large houses.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Back to Baraillon…

Domaine de Baraillon 2011/2021 'Folle Blanche' (49%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 2011/2021 'Folle Blanche' (49%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Four stars and a half
Colour: pure shiny gold. Nose: crushed overripe bananas, custard, golden sultanas, Sauternes, preserved peaches, three rose petals, a drop of hippie perfume (right, patchouli)… All we need now is just a little Jefferson Airplane and/or Grateful Dead. Awesome fresh and vibrant young armagnac on the nose. Wait, not Sauternes, rather sweet Pacherenc as that's stemming from the pays d'Armagnac. Mouth: obviously not as polished as the older ones, but it's already got much complexity and, beyond and above everything, these ripe tropical fruits that are so, well, I was about to write 'sexy'. Finish: long, with oranges chiming in, some kind of drier tiple-sec, and some vanilla cream in the aftertaste, with just a little pinch of chilli as the signature. Comments: perfect folle blanche (which, by the way, you could not translate as 'mad white', Mr AI).
SGP:641 - 88 points.

Darroze 18 yo 2004/2022 Domaine Duporté (47.5%, OB, Le Frêche, Bas-armagnac, Kirsch Import, 320 bottles)

Darroze 18 yo 2004/2022 Domaine Duporté (47.5%, OB, Bas-armagnac, Le Frêche, Kirsch Import, 320 bottles) Four stars
This is integrally baco, by the way I believe baco is the only old 'American hybrid' that's still allowed in France, but not too sure about that, please don't quote me. I know old friends from down there used to say that if you drink too much baco wine, you'll go crazy (or blind). Le Frëche is located in the Landes. Colour: full gold. Nose: we're more on complex honeys, herbal teas and flowers here, such as dandelions early in the morning (before the bees have plundered the nectar), borage… There's more and more mead then, great old chardonnay, more honey (white heather – not the whiskies, ha)… Mouth: pretty potent and 'thick', very good, with very nice touches of piney oak (mizunara? I am joking, pigs will fly and chicken have teeth before they use mizunara in Armagnac). Ripe peaches and nectarines then, black tea, some tobacco and liquorice…  Finish: this time again we'll find triple sec, plus more deep-dried raisins. Passerillage or 'appassimento'. The aftertaste is more peppery and, well, a little woody. Comments: excellent, just have one more sip before reaching the aftertaste (S., WF wouldn't endorse such a lousy tip).

SGP:661 - 87 points.

Since we're at Kirsch's…

L'Encantada 1996/2023 'Lous Mouracs' (52.7%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 1, Ténarèze)

L'Encantada 1996/2023 'Lous Mouracs' (52.7%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 1, Ténarèze) Five stars
Old folks around those places used to say that Ténarèze was armagnac for proper men, but indeed that was totally stoopid; what they were meaning was that it was a tad more rustic and virile than others. Anyway, it doesn't seem like anyone has ever been canceled down there, as far as I can tell. Yet. Having said that, L'Encantada AND Kirsch sounds a bit like Page AND Clapton to me. Colour: gold. Nose: easy, peaches in all their states plus apricots in all their states. And a spoonful of orange blossom honey. Easy. With water: hints of parsley and thyme, plus those easy peaches and apricots, plus touches of turmeric and dried porcini powder. A little more power. Mouth: (neat): indeed it is rather full-bodied on the palate, spicy, leafy, even a little brutal while the nose would have suggested otherwise. Not so easy, after all. With water: some rusticity, earthiness, mushrooms indeed, a little muscovado, turmeric, ginger, even flints, pine needles, fruit peel… Finish: long, a tad more drying, with more earth. A little menthol and liquorice wood in the aftertaste. Comments: exactly a Ténarèze, as I was having them in mind. Delta blues vs. big-city blues. Love it, actually, but you need to factor the fact that it is, well, a Ténarèze.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Please another 1996, from Bas-armagnac this time, for due comparison…

Bas-armagnac 26 yo 1996/2023 (52%, Grosperrin for Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai series)

Bas-armagnac 26 yo 1996/2023 (52%, Grosperrin for Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai series) Four stars and a half
We've already tried some excellent Armagnacs from Grosperrin's, the Sponge had some, for example. Whoever knows how to release sublime cognacs will likely be able to do marvelous armagnacs, I suppose (who said that?) Colour: translucid amber. Nose: oh, something completely different. Think a pack of old figs, some rancio, an old tobacco pouch and a few old pipes while we're at it, some leather, touches of cabbage, a family-pack of prunes, sloes… It rather feels antique, as if this was a very old bottle. With water: coffee and tobacco, at the club back then. Mouth (neat): excellent old-school armagnac, appropriately gritty at first, then very 'tertiary', with many dried fruits, chiefly figs. Prunes, dates, some glazed ham, chestnut purée… With water: ultra-classic armagnac, this time meatier. Foie gras with bits of truffle. No, really. Finish: medium, rather a little fat, herbal and always meaty, this time coated with honey. Oh and truffle. And with some tobacco. Comments: I think we're getting there. This one reminds me of Macallan's rebottled old vintages (from G&M's).
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Lous Pibous 27 yo 1995/2023 (54.7%, Grape Of The Art, Armagnac Now, Bas-armagnac, cask #150, 352 bottles)

Lous Pibous 27 yo 1995/2023 (54.7%, Grape Of The Art, Armagnac Now, Bas-armagnac, cask #150, 352 bottles) Five stars
This is folle blanche. But Armagnac Now?  hope this won't be Apocalypse Now. Colour: red tea. Nose: yet another style, this time on varnish, fresh-sawn hardwoods, bourbon (Pappies and others), black raisins, the moistest pumpernickel, chocolates… I think we might have flown over the 90-mark. With water: it could have been an old sherry monster from Speyside indeed, but for a tenth of the price. Mouth (neat): old Glen Grant by G&M. Like the 1950s. It's very woody, but it is mentholy, piney oak, which we do enjoy a lot. Camphor, cough syrup at cask strength, varnish (that's right)… With water: superlatively conservative as far as flavours go. See what I mean? Oak, black Assam, 90%-chocolate, dark tobacco… In short it's all pretty black. Finish: very long, pretty oaky, superbly so. Big liquorice and menthol. Comments: almost Christlike if you enjoy this heavy yet supreme kind of oakiness, which is not an obligation (thank God!) Having said that, it feels like 50 years old.
SGP:572 - 91 points.

Towards the great years…

Bas-Armagnac 48 yo 1974/2023 (51.2%, Liquid Treasures, Session No1, Birds & Arts Series, puncheon)

Bas-Armagnac 48 yo 1974/2023 (51.2%, Liquid Treasures, Session No1, Birds & Arts Series, puncheon) Four stars and a half
Heeeey, please do not export all our best casks! Having said that, it's more sensible to export casks of brandy than warplanes and landmines, if you ask me… The estate is secret this time. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's an easy one and it is perfect. It's full of ripe peaches, preserved apricots, mature cantaloupes, stronger honeys, raisins, panettone, liquorice allsorts once more, dates and figs… What's also funny is that it would feel younger than the gloriously monstrous Lous Pibous. With water: ripe peaches in full majesty. Mouth (neat): totally good for a while (stewed fruits, oranges, raisins and jams) but it would then become a tad too piney and tobacco-y for my taste, that's the old age and wood. With water: wow, water makes wonders, erases any excessive woodiness (it's the other way 'round in general), and brings out bags of raisins and dried figs. It is not the Riemann hypothesis, but a little simplicity in our spirits does no bad (in language too). Finish: medium, jammy, full of raisins and soft dried fruits. Comments: just lovable. Wee death-seat effect after the Lous Pibous.

SGP:641 – 89 points.

A really old one now, from the time of Page and Clapton indeed…

Château de Gaube 56 yo 1966/2023 (45.8%, Grosperrin for Zero Nine Spirits, Bas-armagnac)

Château de Gaube 56 yo 1966/2023 (45.8%, Grosperrin for Zero Nine Spirits, Bas-armagnac) Four stars and a half
100% baco (that wine that drives you mad, allegedly) and with one of those glorious labels. I mean, after you've downed your bottle you could just peel off the label and get it framed. Colour: deep gold. Nose: It got softer over the years, gentler, with many dried fruits, especially pears, some cedarwood and a little incense, and dates and Turkish delights. It's rather a whisperer this far, as we sometimes say, all in delicacy (talking 'bout this old armagnac, of course not about us at WF). Mouth: it's absolutely charming, but perhaps already in the veteran category. Fig wine, old late-harvest wine, raisins, a little caramel and a little praline, some tobacco, tea, old fir bud liqueur, edible flowers… Charming, it's really charming indeed. Finish: not too long, this time with a little more cedar, pine and fir, then raisins and dates. Comments: rather chamber music than the Berliner Philharmoniker. Great chamber music though.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Why not a little bonus, quickly?

Domaine de Béoulaygue 1950 (43%, OB, Georges Pelat, Bas-armagnac, +/-1975)

Domaine de Béoulaygue 1950 (43%, OB, Georges Pelat, Bas-armagnac, +/-1975) Four stars and a half
An old bottle. You never know with these old bottles… This Domaine is located in the Landes, while these bottles used to be distributed by the famous house Gélas. I don't think the estate still exists as such. Colour: deep amber. Nose: all on heather honey and cedarwood, you'd almost believe you've just cracked open a new box of Cuban puros. Figs and cherry jam are rounding this off. Mouth: oh wowowow, not a dead old bottle for sure, even if it probably got a tad too figgy. Not talking about whacky pudding here. Raisins, very old sweet wines, Sauternes, some caramel (it did not go dry at all), dates filled with marzipan, quince jelly, a little maraschino, candy sugar… It just gets a tad syrupy, whereas others would tend to become dry and, sometimes, cardboardy. Which, in truth, would suggest it got a little 'enhanced' in the 'kitchen' on a 'Sunday morning'. I know what I'm trying to say. Finish: medium, rounded, honeyed and full of raisins. Comments: Georges Pelat used to own, raise and racehorses, that's why there is the head of a horse on the label. Several landowners and Armagnac growers used to raise either racing horses or fighting bulls in the old days – I used to have some in my family. Not bulls, mind you.

SGP:641 – 88 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all armagnacs we've tasted so far


August 11, 2023



WF's Summer Duets
Today Cragganmore official vs. independent


Cragganmore Distillery (Diageo)

Cragganmore is becoming scarce. It's actually amusing to learn, as Angus mentioned the other day, that certain 'Secret Speysides' from the past, which everyone believed to be Glenfarclas, were actually Cragganmore. Because while the mere mention of the town of Ballindalloch used to put us on the right track (but of course), it's worth remembering that Cragganmore too is located in Ballindalloch. Furthermore, after twenty years and a bit of eau-de-vie, some tongues tend to loosen, and old secrets come to light… Now the indie we'll have today is not 'secret'…



Cragganmore 15 yo '150th Anniversary' (48.5%, OB, Distillery Exclusive, 2019)

Cragganmore 15 yo '150th Anniversary' (48.5%, OB, Distillery Exclusive, 2019) Four stars
We've never tried this 15 years old, we've only ever tried 2010's 14 years for the Friends Of The Classic Malts. Does that wonderful consumer club still exist, by the way? I believe that many people were educated about single malt whisky thanks to them and their printed newsletters were even more extraordinary than those of Ardbeg. The advent of the all-digital era has destroyed a lot of brand value, unfortunately, but it's amusing to see DNVBs getting into print again… Anyway… Colour: straw. Nose: it's a zesty, rather bourbon-cask-driven nose, fresh; modern, rather on mirabelles and IPA, citrusy hops, granny smith, then lemongrass, verbena and spearmint from the wood. Only positive comments to make this far. Mouth: good punch, more oak spices (the usual pepper, cinnamon and ginger), always apples and plums, always those flavourful herbs, then grapefruit skin and custard, while oranges would then gain more and more importance in the combo. Finish: rather long, leafy, always with these oak spices and citrus peel. Cinnamon mints and lemon drops in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good, powerful Cragganmore that feels stronger than 48.5%.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

And so, today's indie…

Cragganmore 26 yo 1995/2022 (54.7%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL 19119, 300 bottles)

Cragganmore 26 yo 1995/2022 (54.7%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL 19119, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half
We had tried sister cask #19521 bottled at the same strength last year, and thought it was pretty perfect (WF 88). It's always quite exciting to taste the admirable Cragganmores and the young Taliskers that the two branches of the very honourable Laing family manage to offer us from time to time! Colour: deep gold. Nose: we're closer to the classic, more sherry-driven Cragganmores, including the older official twelves. There's a waxiness that's quite close to some 'nice' soap (natural!), some green walnuts, some cigarette tobacco (we keep mentioning old-style Camels), brown ale, amontillado, muscovado, bits of old leather… With water: pure beeswax and overripe apples. Simple but perfect combo. Mouth (neat): bags of oranges and some chocolate. Jaffa cake, orangettes… That's very Cragganmore in my book, indeed. Then greener berries, greengages, gooseberries, more chocolate, some coffee… With water: and voilà, oranges and various black teas, plus the usual walnuts. Finish: long, punchy, just a tad green and spicy in the end, coming closer to the OB in that respect. Comments: we'd like more Cragganmore and more Bowmore (well, that's clever, S.)

SGP:561 - 88 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Cragganmore we've tasted so far


August 10, 2023


Yet another trip across Europe

We could do this every week. In our book and for now, 'the world' means the world minus Scotland, Japan, Ireland and the USA. But don't we feel a lot of change is around the corner?

As usual, let's start this from France...

In Fréland in the heart of Alsace's Welche country.
(Musée du Pays Welche)



Welche's Whisky 2017/2022 'Small Batch #4' (46.6%, OB, G. Miclo, France, Burgundy casks, 1971 bottles)

Welche's Whisky 2017/2022 'Small Batch #4' (46.6%, OB, G. Miclo, France, Burgundy casks, 1971 bottles) Four stars
We're in the Welche part of Alsace, meaning those small valleys where old French rather than our usual German dialect was the original language. I am myself, by the way, of Welche descent. This very Welche whisky was distilled from malt peated to 35ppm (rings a bell, doesn't it) and matured in five ex-red Gevrey-Chambertin casks (called pieces). Pinot noir and peat, let's see… Colour: apricot/ripe mirabelle. Nose: typical red pinot noir, indeed smoked. Pinot noir can be 'dirty' (think old floorcloth and what's called 'civet cat' and 'hare belly') but that is meant to be an asset. Some also used to use 'Russian leather' but that very descriptor went out of fashion, for unknown reasons. Right. In truth this one's dirty indeed, with some gas and truffle, hardboiled eggs, stewed bok choy, venison… while it would then make a U-turn and display homemade red berry jams, especially strawberries. The expected blackcurrant jelly too, plus some fattish buttercream, and then tomato leaves and a few geranium flowers. After all, we're in Alsace. Mouth: It was not necessary to be so afraid; this baby is quite civilised, albeit a little rustic. You can find red fruits, jams, blackcurrant, tobacco, Szechuan pepper, and a smoke that seems to have been somewhat overshadowed by the Burgundy. Some juniper berries. Finish: rather long, while we got used to the unlikely combo. I think I'll try to smoke some cherry jam. Comments: perhaps a little avant-garde, which is not that common in the old Welche country, but it really grows on you. See, we did not use 'Russian leather'. A malt whisky unlike any other (so not that easy to score).
SGP:654 - 85 points.

Perhaps to Belgium…

Gouden Carolus (46%, OB, Belgium, +/-2023)

Gouden Carolus (46%, OB, Belgium, +/-2023) Three stars
This is a proper brewery's malt whisky. It was first matured in bourbon then finished in 'Het Anker cask', which is a beer from Malines. I know nothing about beer but apparently, Het Anker are making Gouden Carolus (I'm the new Einstein!) Colour: gold. Nose: I've distilled quite some beers myself and always came with something as fruity as this, full of peach and melon syrup. I mean, shock-full of peach and melon syrup. A little custard too, and vanilla yoghurt. I have to say I like this, but I also know what may happen on the palate… Mouth: well, not, it's not exactly thin, it's just incredibly fruity at first (same, preserved peaches, melons, plums) and then a tad woody, with some tannicity. Finish: not too long, pretty oaky, but very okay. Comments: typical 'beer whisky', even if I doubt they would have used any hopped mash. I'm absolutely not against these. My Alsatian compatriots sometimes distil beer and sell it as white eau-de-vie, and sometimes also just hops. I have to say I like this sweet little, uncomplicated Gouden Carolus rather better.

SGP:730 - 81 points.

Just a little bit up north please…

Millstone 26 yo 1996 (42.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Netherlands, oloroso sherry, cask #4152, 233 bottles)

Millstone 26 yo 1996 (42.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Netherlands, oloroso sherry, cask #4152, 233 bottles) Four stars and a half
I suppose this will be as thick as a Donald joke, but don't we all know that Millstone plus thickness just works? And that the thicker, the better? And that not many makes can take it to these extremes? Colour: amber coffee, or something like that. Nose: I'm immediately reminded of some of those very good Spanish Liber whiskies. Very heavy metallic, raisiny and gamey sherry, moving towards very old PX (I'm thinking ultra-old Malaga solera), with loads of prunes, fermented plums sauce, homemade gravy from that old cast iron pan, Bovril and corned-beef. And really loads of raisins. Mouth: beautiful weirdness. Parsley and garlic sauce, raisins, fermenting honey, brown sauce, pancake sauce, prunes in armagnac (à votre santé), rancio… Plus 'of course', some brandy de Jerez and these old 'cream' sherries. Finish: medium, same. Walnut liqueur and tobacco. Touch of wine vinegar in the aftertaste (de Jerez!) and beef soup. Comments: forgot to say that it was also very balsamic. Very fond of these wee bulldozers…

SGP:562 - 89 points.

Aber falls 3 yo 2020/2023 (52.21%, Kintra, Wales, virgin oak, cask #1165, 135 bottles)

Aber falls 3 yo 2020/2023 (52.21%, Kintra, Wales, virgin oak, cask #1165, 135 bottles) Three stars and a half
Don't they have a GI in Wales now? Does that mean that the whiskies do share many common traits? Do they have a tasting committee? Now I did like Aber Falls' official 'Inaugural Release' (WF 82). The 'Autumn 2021' was a tad less entrancing in my book (WF 79). Colour: full gold. Nose: instant plywood, balsa, bergamots and sweet spices, very modern, oak-driven but rather with class. Rye bread, spelt... Hope water won't kill it. With water: oh good fun, with some turmeric and citrusy hops, wheat bran... Mouth (neat): bananas, vanilla, lemongrass, spicy bread, some sawdust, a little rye once more, bits of dried papaya. With water: I don't quite know how they toast/char their virgin oak, but once again bananas, papayas and some lighter maple syrup are running the show. Water does not flatten it too much (which happens with heavy-oaked young whiskies). Finish: what's more, I'm not finding any pineapples. Comments: modern, very good and not 'that young'. I doubt the fine folks at Kintra would have selected it otherwise.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

A last one, from Germany. Good, we won't have thrown too much virtual CO2 into the atmosphere today…

Heartgow 'Unique Collection Jul 2022' (59.3%, OB, Hercynian Distilling Co., Germany, first fill sherry cask, 555 bottles)

Heartgow 'Unique Collection Jul 2022' (59.3%, OB, Hercynian Distilling Co., Germany, first fill sherry cask, 555 bottles) Four stars
I believe you would have also found this make under the names 'Elsburn' or, earlier I think, 'Glen Els'. It seems that they would have used both peat-smoked malt and wood-smoked malt. Colour: copper gold. Nose: praline, pinewood, roasted chestnut, burnt caramel, toffee, Xmas cake, old cough syrup, sauna oils, more pine extracts, concrete, basalt... Things seem to be happening in there… With water: basalt springs out, a box of struck matches as well, fireplace, old stove, leek soup, bean and smoked bacon soup... Mouth (neat): very loud, with some gunpowder, bitter marmalade, tons of herbs and raisins, cured ham, concentrated corn syrup and molasses, wedderburn rum… A little extreme, perhaps, but the almost 60% vol. are playing their part in this fight. With water: barbecued raisins and heavy toffee. Finish: extremely long, with much more smoke now. Some salty, soupy smoke I would say. Very peppery aftertaste, with much raw cocoa too. Comments: this is rather the Fight Club. I hate to write this but it is not whisky for everyone.
SGP:574 - 87 points.

Next time, a Millstone vs. Heartgow fight. I mean, a tasting session. Perhaps…

(Thank you Andy/whiskyprism)


August 9, 2023


A new Linkwood extravaganza, part dos

Just a few more Linkwoods, hoping for some natural, un-fiddled-with expressions… I mean, sherry is good, natural ist besser.

(Anne Burgess)




Linkwood 10 yo 2012/2023 (58.8%, Signatory Vintage, for Germany, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #306301, 202 bottles) Four stars
My life wouldn't have been the same without Signatory Vintage. I am not joking, and I believe that's the case with many seasoned whisky enthusiasts. Of course, we would have drunk much less, but we would have been so bored! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: lemon juice, granny smith, chalk, porridge, white cherries, seaweed, crushed almonds and tiger balm. Another utter blade. With water: one of the tightest yet easiest white Sancerres. May I suggest the famous La Moussière from the house Alphonse Mellot? Mouth (neat): goes down straight along your spine, bringing grapefruit and the tartest apples into your system. Utter purity, even if a wee vanilla-and-limoncello fatness from the barrel would come with it. With water: perhaps a tad more muddy/doughy, losing a very small part of its focus. Finish: long, this time with wee touches of parsley, even a little garlic and shallots. Good fun. Comments: careful with water. Other than that, It's perfect unadulterated young Linkwood.

SGP:561 - 87 points.


Linkwood 10 yo 2011/2021 (52.1%, Thompson Bros., dechar/rechar American oak hogshead, 262 bottles) Four stars
Geese in action on the label. Were they suggesting that this would go well with foie gras? Or is that swans? Colour: white wine. Nose: whiffs of ristretto coffee, then perfect roasted nuts (pecans first), halva, amaretti, nougat… The rechar part does feel. it made it pleasantly coffee-ish, with a 'Starbucks side' as we sometimes say. With water: back on apples and lemons. Mouth (neat): excellent. Big tart citrus combining with the rejuvenated oak, nothing too complex indeed but the zesty fulness (for lack of a better expression) is working extremely well, even if it feels, say a little 'lab'. No problems whatsoever. With water: simple, just excellent. Smart modern malt. Finish: long, citrusy. Once more, apples and lemons are running the show. Comments: Cambus casks? We're not going to restart the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns, are we?
SGP:651 - 87 points.


Linkwood 15 yo 2008/2023 (57.6%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Bibliothek, Switzerland, hogshead, cask #803837, 251 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: hurray, ripe apples, banana skins, chalk and dough, fresh croissants, angelica, woodruff, liquorice wood… It all feels very natural, full, even slightly medicinal, as if they had kept this hogshead at Lagavulin Distillery. You'd even find bandages and sourdough. With water: more pastry dough, leavened dough roll, this morning's baguette... Mouth (neat): great lemony punch. Touch of salt, herbs and grasses aplenty, citrons, maracuja, lavender honey (which hasn't got much to do with lavender flowers, organoleptically speaking)… What's sure is that this is upper-echelon, untampered-with young Linkwood. With water: huge green lemon, very tart, almost a tad aggressive. More water brings more lemon rind, how bizarre. Finish: pepper and razorblades. Comments: in the style of the winners we've had yesterday, Whisky AGE, Liquid Art…  But beware, it's not just a nice little whisky, even if it is a tad 'rounder'.

SGP:651 - 89 points.


Linkwood 14 yo 2009/2023 (52.3%, Best Dram, 1st fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #302700, 251 bottles) Two stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: with beans and eggplant, celeriac, walnut skin, parsnips, artichoke, also dunnage, tarmac, hessian… This is clearly something else. Let's dig deeper… With water: chalk and sourdough, porridge, milk powder, pack of paper tissues, the expected walnuts… Mouth (neat): back to civilisation, even it does remain rather wild, with peppered mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, some leather, sour orange liqueur, sour herbal teas, hawthorn perhaps… With water: not that different. Soy milk, perhaps? Finish: long, more bitter and sour. Isn't it giving up? Pepper… Comments: not too sure. The nose was pretty perfect, but this austere palate sure didn't brighten up my day. Too tough a boy for this humble little taster, I would say. Plus, life is too short and there are many extraordinary other whiskies in this wee range. Let's move on…

SGP:362 - 74 points.


Linkwood 16 yo 2006/2022 (56.5%, The Whisky Show, hogsheads, casks #801604 & 801605) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: nice pastries, sunflower oil, nougat, vanilla fudge… Not an Einstein whisky, but it's nice. With water: cut grass, barley, earth… Mouth (neat): very nice, very citrusy, with this feeling of readymade mojito of some sort. Green pepper, lemon, green pepper, lemon, green pepper, lemon… And mint. With water: nice, sweet, easy, slightly earthy/rooty, with some grapefruit juice. Finish: long, on more of the same. Perhaps more apples. Comments: excellent, but it probably won't transcendently transport us to the eternal light and an ultimate wisdom. That's whisky today, am I not right?

SGP:461 - 84 points.


Linkwood 10 yo 2012/2023 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, casks #201+203, 550 bottles) Four stars
Remember that by rule, a true whisky enthusiast is someone who knows how to write 'Un-Chillfiltered'. No, forget about 'Bruichladdich' and 'Bunnahabhain'. Colour: amber. Nose: proper old-school sherried Linkwood, like in the old days indeed. Chestnut purée, fig wine, peanut butter, metal polish, dates filled with marzipan, black nougat, Turkish delights, fruitcake (a.k.a. the forbidden descriptor)… Mouth: properly old-skool, full of flaws, full of pleasures. Old copper, walnut wine, tobacco, peppers, smoked paprika, muddy pastries, arrak… Finish: pretty long, with some old rancio wines, Malaga PX, whacky figs… Comments: a whisky that is both quite anarchic and entirely conservative. In truth, it reminds me of the United Kingdom as a whole – as seen from my old France, of course.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Time to try some older ones, with two old sister casks for our dear friends in Asia…


Linkwood 30 yo 1992/2022 (47.1%, The Whisky Blues for The Antelope, Macau, bourbon barrel, cask #5285, 280 bottles) Four stars and a half
Hey, a proper 30 yo ex-barrel Linkwood! Colour: straw. Nose: very delicate, whispering, with some beeswax, apple juice, nectar, a little barley syrup, sugarcane juice, dandelions, buttercups, gorse, blancmange, crushed ripe bananas, old papers, old library… Everything's so subtle in there… You would almost believe this is a very old Champagne. Our British friends always swear by Pol Roger, which has always surprised us a bit, but okay, let's go with Pol Roger. Mouth: utter elegance, with salted brioches, sourdough bread, dry honeys, old pinewood, soft jams, quince, plums… It would then get a tad dry and even fleshless, but some menthol and pine resins are coming to the rescue. Finish: nah this is not the best part, it's becoming dry, green, resinous, a little difficult perhaps, but let's remember it is 30 and that it was not artificially boosted with any cheapo active woods. So, no Botox in this one. Comments: no poor Nicole Kidman here, only some embraced age. But love Nicole Kidman and love this old Linkwood! (S., that was the dumbest comment you have ever written on this utterly ridiculous website.)
SGP:361 - 88 points.



Linkwood 30 yo 1992/2023 (48.1%, The Whisky Blues, barrel, cask #5290, 255 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Incredibly light colour for a 30. Nose: fresh and fully on barley syrup, pistachio liqueur, then yellow flowers, wisteria, lilac, soft sauna oils, bananas (old natural whiskies often display bananas, in my meagre experience), hay, gooseberries… This one too is a whisperer, but what elegance! Mouth: more oomph than in the 'Antelope', also more roughness, grass, green spices, green tannins… We're very close, obviously as they were sister casks, but this one's even more 'difficult'. Great, but a little difficult. Finish: pine resin, black and green propolis, raw liquorice… Comments: right, both are fighters. It's almost like playing a game of chess against the whisky, which has a quite obvious superiority. Boy, have they gotten dry! We're too soft…

SGP:361 - 87 points.

All right, seventeen Linkwoods altogether, that's enough. We've got some by future former indies G&M as well, but I think we'll have those later.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Linkwood we've tasted so far


August 8, 2023


A new Linkwood extravaganza

Long story short, Linkwood shared Clynelish /Brora's fate, with an old distillery, then a new one built next to it, while the old one was to be closed for good a few years later, in 1995.

Still house, Linkwood Distillery (ISG Ltd.)

There used to be quite some 'licensed official' or semi-official Linkwood for Italy and then the whole world (quite) in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly thanks to future former independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail (I suppose you've heard the news) who used to push both Linkwood and Mortlach rather heavily while the owners were not. Today many other independent bottlers, small or larger, are having Linkwood, most rather excellent even if I have the impression that there's fewer true sherry monsters, a style that Linkwood used to excel at. Let's check one dozen Linkwood or two, starting with some youngsters, preferably some natural, un-finished ones for starters....




Linkwood 10 yo 2012/2022 (48%, LMDW Artist Collective, first fill bourbon, 1807 bottles) Three stars and a half
I'll say it again, the labels have been very lovely in this series from last year. Colour: white wine. Nose: grassy and oily style, with cherry leaves and banana skins plus paraffin and wax polish. Then cider apples and root vegetables, turnips… And finally, a lot of almond milk I would say. I don't think it's one those pretty fruity and floral Linkwoods of old. Mouth: more fresher and fruitier Speyside, with a lot of gooseberries, touches of maraschino, then more gritty citrus, around homemade limoncello and then rather a lot of genepy as many have in their hipflasks when skiing. Finish: pretty long, with leaves and some fresh rhubarb. A little rustic. The banana skins are back in the aftertaste and retro-olfaction, together with more rhubarb and lemon zests. Some kirschwasser too, more almonds… Comments: a rather green and grassy style of Linkwood. Good drop, for our hipflasks. Now, go skiing in August in the norther hemisphere…

SGP:361 - 84 points.


Linkwood 13 yo 2009/2022 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Monuments, for Kirsch Import, 1st fill sherry butt finish, cask #12) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: I'm rather finding fern and lavender here at first, a touch of shoe polish, ski wax (off you go), a tiny meaty side (teriyaki – perhaps the sherry) and then crushed hazelnuts, Nutella (oops) and a little menthol. Pack of Kools, as we used to say. Mouth: classic herbal orangey and peppery sherriness, amontillado, walnuts, some saltiness, pear bread, a little bitter green tea, then some kind of spicy and liquoricy honey, very lovely. Good marinade for duck. Finish: long, getting fatter, more resinous, let's say on black propolis. Goin' up! Comments: a little slow at first but a wonderful finisher. A story of hare and tortoise.
SGP:561 - 86 points.


Linkwood 14 yo 2008/2022 (48%, Skene Dhu, European oak sherry) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: same style as that of the Signatory, it is almost the same whisky, which can't be bad news. Same walnuts, polishes and amontilladoness, with this mint in the background. An old tin box full of dried mint leaves. Mouth: indeed, very similar whisky just a notch punchier, with more oomph. It cannot be a sister cask as the vintages are not the same, but when brought down to 43% vol., you can't distinguish them anymore. Finish: long, spicier, grassier. Green peppercorns, crude cacao, mole… Spicy marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: very nice dry sherry from a good bodega or cooperage.

SGP:561 - 86 points.


Linkwood 'Madeira Finish' (44.5%, Murray McDavid, 2022) Four stars
Hold on, we do learn that the Madeira barrique used to stem from very large (largest?) producers 'Justino's Vineyard', but nothing about either the age, or the vintage.  Welcome to Scotch 3.0. Why even mention the distillery? Colour: straw. Nose: nah, it's fine, nutty, rather fat and oily, with some sunflower oil, bitter oranges, walnut wine, sweet mustard, panettone… Mouth: good mixture, appropriately mustardy and peppery, very Madeiran. It's true that we' learned from the first Glenmorangies that Madeira and malt can tango. Few sultanas, few orange zests, bits of candied angelica, a little salt… Finish: rather long, on similar flavours. Works well. Comments: I must admit that this is very good. A pity that I must subtract 5 points because there's no age and 5 points because there's no vintage (good one, S.)
SGP:551 - 85 points.

MMcD, while the floor is yours…


Linkwood 9 yo 2012/2022 (46%, Murray McDavid, Benchmark, oloroso sherry cask finish, 1503 bottles) one star and a half
Just a finishing, once more… Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of gunpowder, truffle, gas and flints. And struck matches. Behind that, some walnuts as usual, chocolate cake, quite some straw and hay… Not quite an entrancing nose, for sure. Mouth: first okay (nutty, cakey) but it gets then bitter, sour, close to vase water. Sulphury. Finish: rather long, a little prickly and fizzy. Schweppes. Comments: long time I've not come across this kind of malt. I'm sorry but in my book it is clearly flawed. Wait, I see something written on the label… 'Art Of Maturation'… 'Benchmark'… The copywriters were on dry martini again, I suppose. Anyway, the no-vintage-no-age Madeira, anytime.

SGP:272 - 69 points.

B2B, please. Right, that's not business-to-business, it's back-to-bourbon…


Linkwood 2008/2022 (52.1%, Liquid Art, bourbon, 104 bottles) Four stars and a half
As a Frenchman and by definition, I like any labels on which there are frogs. Colour: white wine. Nose: the exact opposite, with a pristine profile, incredible chalk and plaster, granny smith, lemon, iodine, mercurochrome, lime, rhubarb, kiwi, red currant, cranberry, gooseberry… No more! With water: oh, the nicest porridge and muesli in the world. Mouth (neat): exceptionally pure fruitiness. Apples, mirabelles (big time), papayas, grapefruits… With water: grassier, greener, a notch bitterer but still extremely fine. Leaves and fruit peel. Finish: long, very tart now. Biting into some bitter orange, somewhere in Andalusia. Big mistake! Comments: drop of Zeus', liquid art indeed. Follow this example, quit any lousy finishings! (and to ourselves, buy more sherry WINE) I almost went even higher than…

SGP:661 - 89 points.


Linkwood 12 yo 2010/2022 (51.7%, The Collaboration, Bordeaux wine finish) Three stars and a half
Bordeaux? If they must… But right or left bank? Red or white (or rosé)? Merlot-driven or Cabernet? If white, sweet or dry? Hell, and which château? What's reassuring is that this is a Swiss bottling, while we all know the Swiss know their wine. Let's simply trust them… Colour: light gold with an apricotty hue. So, red wine. Nose: ticks the box. Praline tarte rather than cassis and geranium leaves, no excessive red berry jam, some proper doughy and caky notes, no high-peppers from French oak… Looks like we're safe, this far. With water: some bay leaves and some, well, Swiss cheese. A little fermentary. Mouth (neat): sweet, very peppery indeed. This is where it's getting a little difficult in my book, with quite some spicy barrique juice. Big clove, cinnamon, chilli, cracked pepper… With water: hold on, this time everything is falling in line. Zwetschke tarte and blood oranges. A little green pepper in the background. Finish: rather long, spicy and 'red'. As in red fruits. Comments: nose neat, drink with water. One of my favourites in this style that I don't like too much in general.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

While we're at it…


Linkwood 12 yo 2008/2021 (50.3%, Chapter 7, Monologue, Port Quarter Cask, cask #308314A, 120 bottles) Four stars
Some Port and some quarter cask. For research… Colour: gold. Nose: holy Suzy, this is weird, very un-Scotch, rather brandy de Jerez blended with Jaeger, but I kind of like it. A bag of pine needles, black earth, compost, overripe peaches (breast of Venus, no less), cedarwood, nectarines, cigars… watch it, it grows on you. With water: ale, artisan kriek beer, clafoutis, old Nuits-St-Georges… Mouth (neat): very good, I'm afraid. Between some very old brandy de Jerez indeed, some crazy gravy, a pipeful of moist black tobacco, and Mon Chéri. With water: even better. It swims extremely well. Finish: I was sure it would be a wreck. Well, the finish is not that great, probably a tad too leafy, dry and bitter. Comments: hate quarter casks, hate Port (in my whisky, love Port otherwise), rather love this wee Linkwood. I really need to see a therapist, preferably from the Lacanian school.

SGP:661 - 87 points.

Please a last one, but there might be another large flight coming right tomorrow…


Linkwood 13 yo 2008/2022 (57.4%, Whisky AGE, hogshead, cask # 305721, 271 bottles) Four stars and a half
Hurray, a proper hoggie from Taiwan! Which suggests that this would be rather distillate-driven, which was not the case at all with most wee Linkwoods we've tried today. The modern whisky world, wood first! Colour: white wine. Nose: the Liquid Art with even more oomph. Ultra-chalky zestiness, greens, lime, lemongrass, apple peel, green jujubes, sauvignon blanc… With water: muddier, chalkier, with some raw wool and some grapefruits about to start to consider rotting away. Right. Mouth (neat): how good is this? Superb limoncello, more chalk, grist, green apple liqueur, cherry stems, citrusy wax… What a classy distillate when you let it breathe! With water: gets fat as oil, always wonderfully tight, lemony, chalky. Bone-dry chenin blanc this time. Finish: long, wonderfully straight and vertical. More minerality in the aftertaste, leaves and stems too. Comments: an immaculate conception, says this old (and barely motivated albeit very modest) catholic taster. I think I forgot to mention peaches.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Phew, I'm glad we did not stumble upon any fake peated Linkwood. You know, peat-finished unpeated ones and all that… See you tomorrow.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Linkwood we've tasted so far


August 7, 2023



WF's Summer Duets
Today peated Glenturret A.K.A. Ruadh Maor

Utterly love the Gaelic languages, but why do they all feel the need to use it to the extreme every time they make peated versions of their malt whiskies, I'm not quite sure. We'll ask Bunnahabhain next time... Now since Glenturret is the most ancient working distillery in Scotland, I suppose their older makes were pretty peaty in the first place. BTW in France some people call the distillery 'Glen-Tourette', which I find f*****g funny.



Ruadh Maor 8 yo (46.7%, Seven Sons, 8 Door Distillery, first-fill sherry-seasoned European oak hogshead, +/-2022)

Ruadh Maor 8 yo (46.7%, Seven Sons, 8 Door Distillery, first-fill sherry-seasoned European oak hogshead, +/-2022) Four stars
An indie line they bottle in John O'Groats while their own whisky is still in the making. I believe it's an excellent move, rather than buying stock elsewhere and use the brand name of your own distillery, as many have done. Colour: gold. Nose: a few burnt walnuts at first, probably from the sherry-and-peat combo, then coal smoke and embrocations, wet sand, old stove, some barbecued herbs (thyme, rosemary), a kind of muddy and herbal garden earth, or some lighter compost and humus… What's sure is that it is all very nice, appropriately singular. Mouth: very good! Some funny Thai basil and coriander at first, then more and more salty coal smoke, coal tar, bitter orange liqueurs, sweet curry, crunching pine needles, Kools… Finish: long, with the walnuts back on the stage. Comments: this very lovely youngster sure reminds me of some Ledaigs.
SGP:566 - 86 points.

Some mega-mega-mega Ledaig sessions soon on WF! But in the meantime…

Ruadh Maor 11 yo 2011/2022 (54.4%, Brave New Spirits, The Yellow Edition, bourbon hogshead, cask #3, 291 bottles)

Ruadh Maor 11 yo 2011/2022 (54.4%, Brave New Spirits, The Yellow Edition, bourbon hogshead, cask #3, 291 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a lighter, fresher, fruitier style, less idiosyncratic (love that word) and more on baking soda, pack of gummy bears, fresh panettone, mirabelles and damsons, a little new rubber (pack of bands), coal tar indeed, a little mud… With water: apples and earth, hessian, clams (not blood clams, I've tried that for the first time last week, beeerKk), dunnage… Mouth (neat): excellent! More Caol Ila than Ledaig to give you an idea, although it would then get coarser, greener, rather rubbery… With water: some lapsang souchong, apple and lemon juice, salty mezcal-like spirit (Jalisco's raicilla?)… all excellent as long as you do not add too much water, coz water dilutes it (surprise surprise, Einstein). Finish: rather long, with a little green pepper and touches of rubber. All is under control. Comments: a proper self-peater, not just a finishing done in ex-Laphroaig wood or else. No lazy ways at Glenturret. Like it.
SGP:565 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glenturret we've tasted so far


August 6, 2023


  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!


Rum again and again (and again)

What happened in whisky is now happening in rum: the indies or semi-indies are running the show as far as top-end bottles are concerned. But granted, that's only a personal opinion and it all depends on what's reaching WF's doorstep, we do no market research…

At Worthy Park
(Worthy Park)

Worthy Park



Bacardi 8 yo 'Reserva Ocho' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2022)

Bacardi 8 yo 'Reserva Ocho' (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2022)
Most recent Bacardis have been pretty poor in my book, I believe only their 'Reserva Limitada' made it into the low-80s. No mean feat. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely light, with a little lamp oil, paraffin, sunflower seed, paper glue perhaps… A little burnt wood and caramel too. It is not offensive. Mouth: almost nada, niente, nichts, rien, nothing. Some kind of sour saccharose syrup, pretty unpleasant. Not a sipper for sure, it may start to work below 5°C. I'm sorry. Finish: short but with some disagreeable notes of fermenting pineapple, which make it both light and tough.  Comments: not rum for whisky drinkers for sure. Johnnie Walker Red, Grouse or even Bell's are ten times better in my book. Both Bacardi 4 and 10 are much better to, in my humble whisky-driven opinion. Oh and over-packaging always gives it away.

SGP:420 - 20 points.

Hardy 'Paille' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2023)

Hardy 'Paille' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2023) Two stars
Remember Hardy's made at Saint-James? We've recently tried some excellent Hardy. 'Paille' means it's barely aged, the name just refers to the light colour of 'straw'. Colour: straw (of course). Nose: a little difficult, it's like the tequilas 'reposado', they are a bit in-between, lacking both the immaculate, distillate-driven freshness of the whites and the more complex, rounder style of the properly aged ones (anejo or else). A wee soap, curry, sour fruits, tin, overripe pineapples, tangerines (which is nicer)… Mouth: for cocktails, I would suppose. It is absolutely good, with a rather complex, waxy spiciness, but also a little soap, citrus squash, candy sugar… As we sometimes say, it doesn't quite seem to know where it's heading to. Finish: medium, spicy and sugar, with a feeling of aquavit (caraway). Comments: perhaps not quite for us. We may need to drop all those reposados, pailles or else altogether. But my score won't be bad…
SGP:660 - 70 points.

Admiral Rodney 'HMS Princessa' (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2022)

Admiral Rodney 'HMS Princessa' (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
From bourbon wood and between 5 and 9 years of age (so 5 in whisky terms and 7 in rum count – no?) Admiral Rodney is a rather good drop, but I haven't tried many of them. Colour: orange gold (the orangey hues are always suspicious). Nose: light, this is almost Grand-Marnier or Cointreau aged in oak. Some caney aromas, candy sugar, sweet curry, ras-el-hanout, baked quinces… in all lightness. Mouth: light and good. This orange colour remains frightening though, how much spirit caramel did they add? Some hay, dry tea, TBH these 40% hardly ever work, unless the distillate is fat and heavy, which is not the case here. Now these notes of oaked triple-sec do remain good and pleasant. Finish: medium, dry, a little too much on sugar syrup, muscovado… Comments: fair rum, not earthshattering. We prefer the French admirals anyway (hey, I am joking!) Nice orangey touches.
SGP:640 - 77 points.

Good, let's change gear…

Monymusk 12 yo 2007/2019 (62.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica,  #R1.5, 'A LIttle Extravagant', bourbon, 194 bottles)

Monymusk 12 yo 2007/2019 (62.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica,  #R1.5, 'A LIttle Extravagant', bourbon, 194 bottles) Four stars
It was ex-bourbon and it got finished in new oak, which we find frightening. Why would anyone impose that on a good Jamaican? Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah well, mangos, patchouli, ripe bananas, guavas, that's all the new oak I believe. The ester count seems to be very low here; MLT or MBS, perhaps? Having said that this nose that's rather on white mulled wine is rather lovely. Yes, at 62.8% vol. With water: changes direction, with a lot of pinewood. Mouth (neat): good creaminess and much more liquorice and acrid petrols than on the nose. Forget about what I said about the ester counts, it's much higher. Huge hyper-concentrated salted liquorice. With water: bitters, pine resins, bone-dry liquorice… Tough boy. Finish: very long, with a lot of glue and turpentine, or at least a feeling of heavy turpentine. Comments: it went from soft to extreme. Tremendously turpentined and liquoricy. It seems that the finishing vessel was in HTMC oak, which should mean high-toast, medium-char. They really use a lot of acronyms in booze.

SGP:383 - 85 points.

Worthy Park 10 yo 2012/2023 (62.6%, Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai Series, Jamaica)

Worthy Park 10 yo 2012/2023 (62.6%, Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai Series, Jamaica) Five stars
Lovely labels for sure, even if I'm not sure I ever spotted any samurais in Jamaica. Now they sure do have a few reggae men in Japan… Colour: gold. Nose: I find there's always more shoe polish in Worthy Park than in any other Jamaicans, and this is no exception. It's also a tad more, say aerially vegetal. Gherkins, wakame, samphire, sour fruits… With water: vegetable funk. Leek, Brussels sprouts, turnips, rubber, stewed zucchini, white truffle (ace!)… Mouth (neat): heavy, punchy, yet very bright, salty… This is almost like drinking seawater. Very good. With water: no changes. Salt, rubber, leek… Finish: same with a little salty fudge. Salty liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: there's not enough Worthy Park around. There.
SGP:453 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far


August 5, 2023





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland

Five Glentauchers 

I have a soft spot for Glentauchers, I have very fond memories of trying the 1979 licensed bottling by G&M very early on in my whisky journey and really liking it (although it looks like Serge disagreed at WF72!!!). I generally find it to be a fuller bodied Speysider and often displays a nice waxy side which I really enjoy. Let's have five today and see if we can find this style on display… 


Glentauchers 10 yo 2013/2023 (58.9%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800499, ex-Islay PX sherry finish, 265 bottles)

Glentauchers 10 yo 2013/2023 (58.9%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800499, ex-Islay PX sherry finish, 265 bottles)
We may have made a bit of a strategic error at the outset here, ex-Islay + PX + Glentauchers? Probably not the right combination for an aperitif. But this remains after all, an 'amateur' website - and enthusiastically so! Colour: apricoty gold. Nose: cooked meats and charcoal are the first impressions. I don't get any big blast of peat, but there is certainly something rather sooty and salty about it. The sherry is there too with this familiar slightly jammy and sticky side. With water: brings out a nice plummy fruitiness along with some fruit teas and things like date molasses and treacle. Water pretty essential I would say. Mouth: very sweet! Rather on things like cranberry and orange juice, ginger cake, sugar syrup, citrus flavoured throat lozenges and lemon curd. Very sticky and thick, good if you have a sweet tooth! With water: once again, water seems to do the trick. Balances the sweetness a bit some slightly prickly wood spices, cedar wood, black tea and mint julep. Finish: medium, getting spicier, hotter and still with a lot of jangling sweet fruit. Comments: not really my cup of malt I'm afraid, I don't get much smoke or peat, but I certainly find the modern PX rather dominating and the feeling in the end is that it's rather cloying and tough. If you enjoy that particular style though, I am sure you'll like this one. 
SGP: 642 - 78 points. 



Glentauchers 13 yo 2009/2022 (64.1%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #900314, 1st fill sherry butt, 649 bottles)

Glentauchers 13 yo 2009/2022 (64.1%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #900314, 1st fill sherry butt, 649 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: rocket fuel, but noseable. Some very nice leafy, earthy and lemon rind notes but they feel a bit subdued by the alcohol. Let's just go for water without too much prevarication I think… With water: opens nicely onto tinned apricot, quince, flower honey and some caramel shortbread richness. Mouth: very good and surprisingly accessible even at this strength. Slightly sappy, lots of spiced orange liqueur, fir resins, tangerine and wood spices. Still needs water though. With water: that nice earthiness is more exposed now, we're more on tobaccos, cloves, aniseed, liquorice bark and wee camphory aspects. A good feeling of richness and weight, with even a little waxiness, which I find appropriately Glentauchersish. Finish: medium, on wood saps, sultanas, salted caramel and a little more leafy earthiness. Comments: I find these super high cask strengths very extreme, these casks almost always seems to work better with a few degrees reduction to my palate. That's probably my own preferences as a bottler and drinker coming through, but I certainly find this one really much improved by water. 
SGP: 551 - 84 points. 



Glentauchers 21 yo (47.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 803 bottles)

Glentauchers 21 yo (47.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 803 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: totally different! Rather wonderfully on pollens, honeys and green fruits with a nicely apparent waxiness supporting everything in the background. Feels very emblematic of Glentauchers as a slightly fuller bodied make. It also expresses this 'matured fruity Speyside' profile that I find completely impossible to be against. Mouth: extremely easy, soft, waxy and full of yellow fruits, pollens, dried out old honey, crystallised citrus rinds and chamomile tea. Globally it's is perhaps a tad simple and slightly 'soft', but this softer and drier quality makes it extremely quaffable, just not the most complex dram ever. Finish: medium, faintly peppery, still nicely waxy and elegantly drying once again. Comments: reminds me of the old G&M 1979 licensed bottling with this drier, gently fruity and waxy profile. Simple, but highly pleasurable and easy to sip. Proper 'drinking' whisky, if you can imagine such a thing.
SGP: 451 - 87 points. 



Glentauchers 23 yo 1997/2021 (53.2%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts of Scotland', cask #401, barrel, 157 bottles)

Glentauchers 23 yo 1997/2021 (53.2%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts of Scotland', cask #401, barrel, 157 bottles)
I really enjoyed sibling cask #402 which was bottled a couple of years previously as a 21yo (WF88), so hopefully this should be of similar calibre… Colour: straw. Nose: similar to the Boutiquey but richer and sweeter with clearer wood influence and slightly less dominant waxiness. Having said that, there are still indeed quite a few waxy notes, some pineapple, some more of these lovely dried out honey qualities, rolling tobacco and muesli full of dried fruits. With water: greener, on flowers in vase water and crushed parsley. More pollens and a hint of tree bark. Mouth: sweet and juicy, with pineapple jelly, white pepper, a little waxed canvass impression and things like face cream, juniper, mint tea and bergamot. Lovely, and once again on the more charismatic side of modern Speyside I would say. With water: gets closer to the Boutiquey with a more magnified waxiness, although still a bit sweeter and rounder. Finish: medium, slightly sappy, peppery, the oak feeling a tad more now. Comments: I find this one more complex, but in the end, I actually think I prefer the waxier and more direct Boutiquey bottling. 
SGP: 551 - 86 points. 



Glentauchers 30 yo 1990/2020 (50.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #12487, refill hogshead, 169 bottles)

Glentauchers 30 yo 1990/2020 (50.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, cask #12487, refill hogshead, 169 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: very honeyed, richly on honeys, mead, waxes and hints of camphor and pine needles. Blind you might say a 1970s distillate rather than 1990. I also start to get some lovely notes of dried heather flower and dried mint. Add to that a touch of eucalyptus and aged calvados. A gorgeous nose, I have to say. With water: more of the same, but add in perhaps one or two greener fruits and some aged sweet wine. Mouth: very in keeping with the nose, in that it is dominated by waxes and honeys, but perhaps not quite as complex as the nose - which is so often the case with older whiskies. Still, these thick and syrupy waxy flavours are gorgeous, and in time there's also a sweeter honey note and flavours of dried papaya and mango. With water: becomes a little warmer and more peppery, also more of these lovely dried exotic fruit notes. Really delicious! Finish: long, and becoming tropically fruity once again, plenty more waxes, aged mead and camphor with a nice warming peppery aftertaste. Comments: quite simply, gorgeous, old school, waxy malt whisky, captured just before it got too old I think. 
SGP: 561 - 90 points.




More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glentauchers we've tasted so far


August 4, 2023


WF's Little Duos, today Glencadam

Not quite a staple in the house, and I have to say the brand remains pretty discreet after its big relaunch, almost twenty years ago, with that new 15 years old that was absolutely awesome. Sadly, we last tried the 15 in… 2009. Let's have two recent Glencadam, even if like many Scottish malts these days, they seem to rely quite a bit on 'sherry' or on PX (which is made all over southern Spain). We've long been talking about the bourbonisation of Scotch, well I believe it's really time to discuss Pedroisation. Having said that, this first one was rather olorosoed…




Glencadam 'Reserva Andalucia' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Glencadam 'Reserva Andalucia' (40%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
NAS and an oloroso finish. There, what did I tell you? I think I found this one in Edimburgo. I mean, in Edinburgh. Colour: gold. Nose: starts a tad sour, with rather a lot of green walnuts (you find them everywhere in whisky these days) and sour beers. Then various chocolate bars, nuts and berries. Dried blueberries, goji, raisins, then peach skins and just black tea. A little green pepper. Mouth: tea, leaves, a touch of leather, bitter oranges, more walnuts, then jelly babies and pepper. Those Mexican sweets made out of agave (sometimes with a worm inside). Light mouth feel but I wouldn't call it thin. Finish: medium, still leafy and always with these walnuts, dry beer, and indeed young oloroso. Sweeter, rounder aftertaste, on marmalade. Comments: certainly not a bad drop, at all. It would work better at 46% vol.
SGP:451 - 79 points.

Update : there seems to be both versions at 46% and some at 40% around. Not too sure... I can't check my sample bottle, it's been recycled a long time ago. Indeed, perfection is not of this world ;-).

There, PX…

Glencadam 2012/2023 (58.5%, Best Dram, Whisky Druid and Kirsch Import, 1st fill PX barrel, cask #900034, 272 bottles)

Glencadam 2012/2023 (58.5%, Best Dram, Whisky Druid and Kirsch Import, 1st fill PX barrel, cask #900034, 272 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: once more some earthy walnuts and some black tea (cold) at first, and frankly, I find this more much more amontillado-y than PXed on the nose (no, we're not afraid of any barbarisms). In my book, that's rather good news. I'm also reminded of those blends of mustard and fruits they make in Burgundy, with cassis, raspberries or else, that's just before some big notes 'a box of Cuban cigars' would show up. With water: Maggi, balsamic vinegar, walnut wine, tarragon, sweet mustard…  And only a small handful of raisins. Mouth (neat): much fruitier, with cranberry muffins, blueberries too, clove on top of those, oranges (with clove, we call them studded oranges), cracked pepper… With water: the best part. Peppered dried fruit, peppered strawberries, umeshu, chocolate, Pflaume Schokolade (I'm writing this in German coz we don't have those in France)… Finish: long, on similar notes, plus some malt and coffee, chicory coffee… Comments: you can always count on the indies, but not too sure about what a '1st fill PX barrel' is. Some bespoke virgin barrel that's been seasoned with PX?

SGP:661 - 87 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glencadam we've tasted so far


August 3, 2023


Glenrothes, randomly

Verticales are fantastic, but verticales can be boring. And then again, how do you build verticales when there are NAS bottles?... And when the distilleries are 'secret'? It's all becoming a joyful mess, I'm telling you... What's more, I've seen some friendly companies bottling names that can easily be disclosed without drawing the wrath of anyone as 'secret Speyside', just because the public believes that 'secret Speysides' ought to shelter very prestigious names. Smart!

Jambon persillé bourguignon
(Cuisine AZ)




Glenrothes 10 yo (46%, Canmore, bourbon hogshead, 470 bottles, +/-2023) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: raw barley, malt, cut grass, apple peel, bakers' yeast, dry white beer, a little linoleum, oak spices… It's raw and very dry indeed. Mouth: much more fruits, and we're talking both orchard fruit (apples, plums, pears) and grapefruit and lemon. Still a lot of grass and ale in the background, but indeed it is fruitier. Finish: rather long, spicy. Allspice and capsicum. Comments: no-compromise young malt whisky in its rawest, most unadulterated form. Solid drop if you like them totally al natural.

SGP:351 - 83 points.

Probably just the opposite…


Glenrothes 8 yo 2013/2021 (59.8%, Fadandel, 1st fill oloroso quarter cask, cask #1660, 168 bottles) Three stars and a half
Remember a quarter cask is half a cask. Typical Scottish logic. We do expect a little monster… Colour: amber. Nose: ten tons of old walnuts, whiffs of burning lamp oil, a lot of raw cacao, cardamom and clove… With water: chocolate cake, moussaka, aubergines, coffee… Mouth (neat): big, with chocolate sauce, orange squash, artichoke liqueur, beef jerky, green peppercorn, cardamom once more… And of course, walnuts. With water: rather rounder and sweeter, but always with some roaring cardamom and clove. A lot of walnut skins, nocino, puréed chestnuts, more artichoke (liqueur, Cynar)…  Finish: long, spicier. Peppered walnut wine of some sort. Comments: a little extreme, at the other end of the spectrum. Very good drop if you're ready for it.

SGP:461 - 84 points.


Glenrothes 15 yo (55%, Spirits Service, SpiritFilled Mythical Beasts, first fill sherry, 588 bottles, 2022) Four stars
These good folks are also 'Whisky Casks Investment Specialists'. Well, nobody's perfect. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a fine nutty Glenrothes, close to some OBs, with some Nescafé, caramel, then overripe apples and profiteroles. With water: a little deeper into the malt, with some brown ale, chocolate sauce, a drop of Heering… Mouth (neat): indeed, classic full-proof Glenrothes, with some chocolate, cracked pepper, bits of moist cigar and one double-espresso. With water: plus a little stout and some peppery old wood. Finish: long, sherried, with more walnut wine, chocolate and strong black tea. A few wood shavings in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, with some Glendronachness here and there.

SGP:561 - 87 points.


Glenrothes 16 yo 2006/2022 (53.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for Kirsch Import, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #18601303, 328 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: a little fizzy, leathery and sulphury at first, then more on fruit pastes, fruitcake, tealeaves… You do feel that it would need water. Happy to oblige: now geared more towards dried figs, raisins, dates… Mouth (neat): sulphur indeed, mingled with marmalade and those famous old walnuts, then black pepper and many leaves. With water: black toffee, black pepper, capsicum and juniper, bitter leaves… Finish: long and pretty leathery. Comments: we know some of our German friends are pretty fond of this style of heavy/dry sherried malt. Good catch then.

SGP:461 - 84 points.

Perhaps one of those numerous Glenrothes by Cadenhead's?


Glenrothes-Glenlivet 16 yo 2001/2018 (52.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: right on the malt, with some muesli, then sauvignon blanc, granny smith, lemons, chalk… With water: white pepper and just clay and grist. In the core of the core (of the core). Mouth (neat): good tart lemonness, more granny smith, more chalk and more sauvignon blanc. White melons too. With water: ziiiing. The tightest Sancerre. I know we always quote Sancerre but in my opinion, it's one the wines that are closest to raw, bone-dry, unaromatised malt whisky. Finish: long, fruity, on wine gums. The yellow ones and the white ones. Pure lime juice in the aftertaste but the signature is sweeter. Manzana Verde. Comments: one of the better casks/batches within these parcels, IMHO.

SGP:561 - 86 points.


Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (55.8%, Liquid Treasures for eSpirits, 10th anniversary, sherry hogshead, 195 bottles) Four stars
The 'lady' on the label is holding a gun, so I suppose there is some gunpowder to be expected now… Colour: deep gold. Nose: there is, indeed, a little gunpowder, struck matches or else, but nothing too excessive. What's coming to centre stage then is a large basket of dried fruits, dates, raisins, pears, figs, candied oranges… plus some sesame oil and orange blossom. With water: bitter ale, sake, damp chalk, perhaps albariza (that white chalky soil in Jerez)… Mouth (neat): very good! No gunpowder this time, rather tighter citrus, blood oranges, a drop of palo cortado, some cracked pepper… With water: very good, between lemon liqueur and civilised chalk (what?) Finish: long, closer to malt, grist, lemon herb focaccia… Comments: good good good (???)

SGP:561 - 86 points.


Glenrothes 25 yo 1997/2023 (55%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #Gr-1997-1, 233 bottles) Four stars and a half
Very funny label, extremely well done if you ask me. Please do Edvard Munch's The Scream next time (perhaps with an ex-refill- STR-Laphroaig-finish?) Colour: straw. Nose: good fun indeed, with a lot of parsley and cress at first, then salty liquorice and Cuban cigars, then coriander, mint and grapefruit. In other words, it is an unusually potent, zestier Glenrothes. With water: perfect muddy porridge, sprinkled with lemon juice and… whisky indeed. Perfect breakfast. Mouth (neat): grapefruit indeed, lemons, elderflower liqueur and the spritz they're making thereof (St Germain over Aperol!) I wouldn't have said Glenrothes, I'd have said Highland Park. Could we talk to the warehouse manager? (of 1997). With water: same feelings. Excellent, but do not drown it. Finish: long, tight, lemony, yet fat, fermentary, waxy, slightly smoky… Seriously, HP. Comments: best of show this far.

SGP:562 - 89 points.


Glenrothes-Glenlivet 21 yo 1996/2018 (50.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, hogsheads, 990 bottles) Three stars and a half
Another one from the not-so-distant good old days. They had gathered the contents of three bourbon hogsheads. Colour: straw. Nose: one of the casks may have gone off the road at some point, as we're finding a little aluminium, silverware, pack of nails… A patched cask? All the rest is extremely fine, with good chalk and clay, porridge, wool, musty cellar, fresh concrete… With water: grass, herbs, skins and peels. It's closing! Mouth (neat): super! Grapefruits and 10% pineapples, possibly from 'that cask'. Some sour creams, sour fruit juice, lemon yoghurt, then more and more pepper. With water: a tiny metallic soapiness, some sweetened grapefruit juice, and that tiny muddy/metallic side. Finish: pretty long, grassy, porridge sprinkled with lemon being back. Sour metal in the aftertaste. Comments: good and intriguing.

SGP:561 - 84 points.

Last one, let's change decade…

Glenrothes 1989/2000 (59%, Caledonian Selection, Rinaldi Import, barrel, cask #20119) Five stars
I have to say I've never been a fan of those decanters by Caledonian Selection/Liquid Gold Enterprises, except that they work very well if you want to use them to do some avocado plantations. Or else… They were having several young Glenrothes like this one. Colour: white wine. Nose: tutti-frutti eau-de-vie aged in quasi-inert wood, cassata dough, supermarket panettone (come?) and just various pastry doughs. Actually, this is very nice. With water: it's clearly Italian, with amaretti and limoncello. Good fun there. Mouth (neat): very good! Good fatness, this Highland-Parkness once more, herbs and leaves, a coastal smoke, and even straight peat and lemon. With water: wonderful! Polishes, mentholy teas, smokes, lemon marmalade, citron liqueur, chalk… It could be that those rather ugly decanters (but aren't all decanters a little ugly and vulgar anyway?) do work very well for secondary maturation (a.k.a. bottle aging). With this shape, they must be working like little stills… Finish: rather long, very perfect, waxy, sweet, slightly honeyed, and indeed Highland-Parky. We really have to meet with that honourable warehouse manager from Highland Distillers' heyday… Comments: madre de dios, this is a clear winner, this came unexpected! Glenrothes, really?
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Good, we could quickly have a last one from a good house, don't you think?


Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (50.1%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Four stars and a half
This one was bottled for the 'Phoenix Irish Pub Lauffen im Vogtshof'. That's just south of Heilbronn, Germany, and they have 4.9* on Google! That's our next trip to Germany sorted. Colour: office coffee. Nose: a strong contender, but this is rather fully on Mars bars, millionaire shortbread, biltong, mocha and roasted chestnuts. The jury's still out. With just a drop of water: it wouldn't change much, I'm just finding tony notes of persillé, 'a terrine made with cooked ham that is finely shredded and mixed with a generous amount of parsley'. Alright. Forgot to add, it's a typical dish from Burgundy, which takes white Meursault well in my experience. Mouth (neat): ah, creamy armagnac, brandy de Jerez, grandma's walnut liqueur, Max's nocino, chocolate liqueur, high-end Bailey's (but no one drinks that, it's just dying in the bottles, is it not)… With water: perfect chocolaty sherry. Mozart Liqueur, or the wonderful liqueur-filled chocolates they're making at our friends Abtey's, here in little Alsace. No, we do not do product placement in our tastings, but I'm sure we should. Like, 'this noses like the brand new Louis Vuitton handbag made out of Scottish ostrich leather, etc.' No, cancel that. Finish: long, full of coffee, chocolate and beef jerky. Sukiyaki. Comments: very close to the higher plateaus of sherrydom.
SGP:561 - 88 points.


(Thank you Tom)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glenrothes we've tasted so far


August 2, 2023



Summer Trios
Today Three random Glenfiddich

Let's see what we have, it's good to try this major brand every once in a while. Plus, we won't even have any teaspooned Wardhead this time.

Mood image for Glenfiddich Grande Courrone. Welcome back to 1978! (Glenfiddich website)



Glenfiddich 15 yo 'Our Solera Fifteen' (40%, OB, +/-2023)

Glenfiddich 15 yo 'Our Solera Fifteen' (40%, OB, +/-2023) Two stars and a half
Does one really still bottle a 15-years-old at some stingy 40% vol. in 2023? As for these soleras, same in rum, they are no proper soleras, they don't move the spirits from cask to cask over the years, they just use vats. Or the average age would be much, much higher than just 15, which has to be the minimum age. Right, in rum, they just do whatever they like, the figures don't mean a thing. Colour: gold. Nose: sour wood, apple juice, a little lemongrass, muesli and porridge, sourdough, a little cream cheese perhaps, yoghurt… some nicer mint and vanilla in the background. Decent nose. Mouth: thinner, with notes of tarte tatin, more cider, sour green teas, porridge… All this in all lightness. Some sawdust, some cardboard, some yeasty elements, easy lager… It's not that it is disintegrating but is it really very light. Finish: short. Candy sugar, apple juice, cardboard, vanilla tea and toasts in the aftertaste. Comments: it's fine, but I find it frustrating – as I always have with the various inceptions of this little 15. There's room for hope – and more oomph.

SGP:441 - 79 points.

Oh and there's this old one that I had tried several times, without ever writing any 'official' tasting notes for them. One of the first 'peated blended single malts'

Glenfiddich 12 yo 'Caoran Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2005)

Glenfiddich 12 yo 'Caoran Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2005) Two stars
Some early in-cask blended single malt, as this baby was partly finished in ex-peater casks. It is still bearing the original label, with a 'Pure Single Malt' mention on the neck. I remember the method was very controversial back then, but today everyone does it. Quite. Colour: gold. Nose: dry, you'd almost believe you're nosing an old coal pit, and certainly an old ashtray. It's not that it is very smoky, but the profile is very unusual, acrid, rather unpleasant. A little burnt rubber, hay smoke. I think I used to like it a little better back in the days. Mouth: not quite indeed. Rubber, smoked papers, ashes, fireplace, apple juice, old beer, taste of glass, burnt herbs… Finish: medium, green, gritty, curiously salty. Comments: it's got some good sides, but I'm not sure it kept well in its dazzling silver-labelled bottle, as if the smoke ate the fruits – which is rather the opposite of what happens with a regular peaty whisky (Laphroaig and buddies).
SGP:464 - 75 points.

Glenfiddich 26 yo 'Grande Couronne' (43.8%, OB, cognac finish, 10,000 bottles, 2021)

Glenfiddich 26 yo 'Grande Couronne' (43.8%, OB, cognac finish, 10,000 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
Always got to love those decimals in the alcohol degrees when the latter clearly are the result of a dilution/reduction, but let's stop nit-picking. This baby was finished for two years in cognac wood (they write 'French Cognac casks' – good one) and then packaged as if all the bottles were destined for the Palace of Versailles or for Neuschwanstein and/or Hohenschwangau. Or for the Trump Tower. Dieu Sauve le Roi! Colour: gold. Nose: we're not that far from the 15 Solera at very first nosing, but as expected, this one is soon to take off towards stewed peaches, acacia honey and sultanas, while keeping a good maltiness and a handful of honey-glazed roasted walnuts and peanuts. Tarte tatin is obvious two, both the ones made with apples and the ones made with quinces. My preferred. Mouth: I find it excellent, sweet and mellow, full of meadow honey, maple syrup, peach liqueur (very cognac) and with some unexpected touches of rum. Our tartes tatin are back too, together with very ripe bananas and papayas, plus a little crème brûlée and just brown sugar. Finish: medium, still sweet, honeyed and caramelised. Raisins and peaches in the aftertaste, as in a good cognac XO. Comments: Sinatra in your glass. Probably not a malt for indie Ben Nevis or 1970s Ardbeg-obsessed geeks, but personally, I really like it. And I know all my friends would love it, even those who don't like whisky at all. Especially the latter, actually.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glenfiddich we've tasted so far


August 1, 2023


Craigellachie, abundantly, part deux

As we discussed yesterday, there is a lot of Craigellachie around. Remember Craigellachie used to belong to Lagavulin's Peter Mackie, then to the D.C.L./S.M.D., until it was sold to Dewar's in 1998. So, it belongs to Bacardi. In fact I'm wondering  whether it isn't my favourite distillery within the Bacardi stable (which gathers no less than Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Brackla, Craigellachie and Macduff). A lot of Macduff soon on WF, by the way.

(Photograph Craigellachie)




Craigellachie 2013/2022 (56.8%, Or Sileis, ex-Staoisha bourbon barrel, cask #300562, 245 bottles) Four stars
Taiwan, baby. So, as I understand it, this is some in-cask blended malt done with Bunnahabhain's peated Staoisha (I'm afraid we will have to get used to that, S.) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it is not a proper peater, not at all, it seems that the marriage was done with care and moderation. A refill cask, perhaps? Now, one will find some beach sand, bits of coal, ashes, barbecued thyme and rosemary, and some bread cooked over fire. A little rubber too. With water: hold on, wasn't it Caol Ila? Mouth (neat): the peat feels much, much more. There were at least 25 litres of Staoisha in the wood. Limoncello, cigar ashes, salt… This time it is clearly a 'peated' Craigellachie. Not sure Sir Peter Mackie would have approved, but let's move on, it's a solid drop. With water: some sardines and anchovies. This is a peated malt whisky and it isn't even a 'lightly peated malt'. Finish: long, salty, coastal, peaty, lemony. Pears. Comments: such a cruel dilemma. I enjoy the end result rather a lot, but I'm not fond, philosophically, of these ways of doing blended malts while keeping the category name 'single malt' as well as the name of the distillery. I'll say this is clearly not a Craigellachie in my book, but I like it rather a lot.
SGP:554 - 85 points.


Craigellachie 9 yo 2012/2022 (57.3%, Douglas Laing's Provenance for Or Sileis and Drunk Choice, refill hogshead, cask #15131, 257 bottles) Four stars
A pharaoh-cat on the label. There must be some story behind this one that was done for Taiwan too… Colour: white wine. Nose: pure apple cake, muesli, brioche dough, barley sugar, sunflower oil, a little white chocolate, custard… Boy does this work. With water: diving into a mashtun. Mouth (neat): textbook zesty barleyness, citron liqueur, cassata, elderflower fritters, woodruff syrup (stunning stuff when it's well made, I've got some from the Vosges that's perfect), banana cream… All perfect. With water: I said all perfect, and it would water without flinching. Finish: Mother Nature's own dram, very close to barley. Comments: long time no recent single malt from Douglas Laing's, well I am very happy to see that they haven't lost their touch.

SGP:551 - 87 points.


Craigellachie 15 yo 2006/2022 (50%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, 327 bottles) Four stars and a half
The label is about beard oil. I think I'll have to take a look at that thing, could you make some with some Brora? Or some Dornoch? Please, try… Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah, mash, wash, beers, paraffin indeed, apple juice, barley, draft, kiwi peel… With water: sunflower oil yet again, drawing gum, lanolin, hand cream… Mouth (neat): apples, lemons, lemongrass, green liquorice, crazy daiquiri and pistachio oil. The hogshead was first class – and so was the distillate, naturally. You cannot beat a great hogshead and I think you cannot make bespoke great hogsheads. That's great, it means that whisky may remain an art. With water: pink grapefruits in majesty. Finish: medium, citrusy and oily. Thyme and lemon essential oils. Comments: it's deep like deep wine, and yet so simple. Excellent cask, high quaffability index (TM WF – joking).  

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Wow, that one was great. Let's move on and find some 1st fill BB… …


Craigellachie 16 yo 2006/2022 (51.7%, Best Dram, 1st fill bourbon, cask #8101201, 227 bottles) Three stars and a half
A bottling from and for Germany. Ich bin sicher, dass es perfekt sein wird. I mean, I'm sure it'll be perfect. Colour: straw. Nose: yep, heather honey and triple-sec, which would give this baby a wee HP-side. Many aromatic herbs and flowers, especially verbena and gentian. Otherwise sweet roots, white carrots, glazed parsnip gratin, some custard… That's all the barrel, I would say. With water: whiffs of new engine oil, papers…  Mouth (neat): the barrel's a tad loud for my taste. Mangos are great but the spices are a little dominant then. Water should help. With water: not too sure. It's very good but it's moving towards cider and sweet beers. Finish: medium, on gueuze I would say. Comments: a little less impressive, the distillate's profoundness may have gotten a bit buried (what?)

SGP:551 - 83 points.

Sherry, please…


Craigellachie 15 yo 2007/2022 (57.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL19264 282 bottles) Four stars and a half
A bottling for Switzerland. I shan't start to joke about röstis, but I do utterly love röstis. Colour: gold. Nose: some rounder, sweeter, gentler oak impact, with this little smoky and paraffiny touch in the background, otherwise metal polish, mangos, camphor and just a drop of tequila. I know that sounds weird but believe me, it isn't. Lovely. With water: great sherry cask. It's all becoming a little manzanilla-y, with walnuts, mustard, green apples, yellow curry, satay… I bow I bow I bow… Mouth (neat): but how good is this? Thick camphor and eucalyptus oil, walnut skins, green chartreuse, a pinhead of mustard… With water:  this is between me and this whisky, but in my head and book and Macintosh, it is just ticking all boxes. Finish: longer than the others, still manzanilla-y. Some kind of mineral smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: wonderful and poetic. Quasi-90, I'm super-glad to have learned that Craigellachie and fino-y sherry were able to play it like Page und Plant.
SGP:562 - 89 points.


Craigellachie 10 yo 2011/2022 (68.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, butt, cask #900094, 563 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: at this strength, this is not a tasting, it's an assassination attempt. I would suppose Craigellachie fill at 63.5% vol., right? Which means that this should have been stored right under the roof of a large palletised warehouse. I'm getting cakes and nougats on the nose. With water: pancake sauce and black turon, millionaire shortbread, caramelised popcorn…  Mouth (neat): it's bearable, it's even excellent, on mango chutney and deep-roasted pecans and peanuts. But there's quite some varnish too, which should not belong here in my book. With water: indeed, varnish is gone but boy is it difficult to bring it down to the right strength. Flavours of sour fruit, orange liqueur and wood extracts come and go with each drop of water you would add. You would almost need a PhD in nuclear chemistry to handle this crazy one. Finish: cakes, praline, roasted nuts and Nutella. Once you've brought it down to 45% vol., having said that. Comments: I say tough boy, It's the equivalent of a 5000-piece puzzle.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Officials, the floor is yours…


Craigellachie 19 yo (46%, OB, +/-2023) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: it's all on hay and fruit peel, dry white beers and dry wines (old white Bordeaux) plus white/root vegetables. Celeriac, parsnips, asparagus, chalk… Mouth: awesome, really awesome. Salty dry sherry, mustard and walnuts… Well this will be a very short note but this is wonderful. Stunning nutty combo in the background (walnuts, pecans, macadamia). Finish: long, salty, mustardy, manzanilla-y. Green curry sauce in the aftertaste. Comments: this one reminds me of a curry restaurant in Glasgow, named Dakhin (89 Candleriggs). Best Indian food in the UK, better than the Bombay Brasserie in its heyday (I can tell you that I've used and abused that place in my not-so-distant youth). Utterly glorious official Craigellachie.

SGP:552 - 90 points.


Craigellachie 23 yo (46%, OB, +/-2023) Five stars
Well, I remember we had tried another official 23 in the year 2014, which we just adored (WF 91). But no pressure… Colour: gold. Nose: oh, nuts and mustard, vin jaune, Comté cheese, old leathers, pu-her, chen-pi, umami sauce, old apples, white truffles… Mouth: I'm not fond of the pseudo-Victorian design of the bottles at all, but the juice they've put inside is just ueber-first-grade, stunningly salty, ridden with earthy teas and curries, walnut oils and wines, umami sauce, old dry Madeira, and just… seawater. Holy Suzy! Finish: long and grand. Wonderful oiliness, splendid old kirschwasser. Not sure how they did that. The aftertaste is dirty and drying, but that will appeal to our masochistic side (what? Who said that?) Comments: I say it's flying way above its neighbours. I would add that they should send their Scottish distillers to Puerto-Rico, they may have a few things to teach them. But that's not my business, of course it isn't…

SGP:462 - 91 points.

One very last official Craigellachie (I promise)…


Craigellachie 27 yo 1993/2021 (46%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, Sauternes, batch #R1393) Two stars and a half
Why they felt the need to finish this old Craigellachie in Sauternes wood for 1 year and 11 months, I have no idea. Was it that bad? Was it really necessary to adjust the seasoning? What had happened previously that went wrong? I mean… Colour: gold. Nose: you would have expected to find apricots and honeys, but it's actually pretty leafy, dry, rather on candlewax and, well, candles. Plus last year's apples. Mouth: nicer, thanks to some apricots and honeys indeed, but we are far from the clarity of all the other Craigellachies we have just tasted, both independent and official bottlings. Finish: medium, too leafy. Bitter herbs, bitter beers, forget. Comments: just no, the finishing did not save it. No good for the reputation of Sauternes, whose life is rather complicated at the moment. Buy the best, they're cheap.

SGP:561 - 78 points.

I'm a little sad to put an end to this session with such an average expression, but in the end, we will mainly remember the wonderful 19 and 23-year-olds. And, of course, all the independent bottlings...

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Craigellachie we've tasted so far

July 2023 - part 2 <--- August 2023 - part 1 ---> August 2023 - part 2



Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Craigellachie 19 yo (46%, OB, +/-2023)

Craigellachie 23 yo (46%, OB, +/-2023)

Glenrothes 1989/2000 (59%, Caledonian Selection, Rinaldi Import, barrel, cask #20119)

Worthy Park 10 yo 2012/2023 (62.6%, Zero Nine Spirits, Samurai Series, Jamaica)

L'Encantada 1996/2023 'Lous Mouracs' (52.7%, Journal des Kirsch, Kirsch Import, Edition Nr 1, Ténarèze)

Lous Pibous 27 yo 1995/2023 (54.7%, Grape Of The Art, Armagnac Now, Bas-armagnac, cask #150, 352 bottles)